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What are the risks of spinal steroid injections for neck pain?

One risk of spinal steroid injections for neck pain is injection into the vertebral artery that can cause blood vessel injury, spasm, or occlusion and lead to a stroke. Other risks of spinal steroid injections for neck pain include pain, bleeding, infection and nerve injury.

Spine injections with steroids can be helpful for a number of conditions, such as severe arthritis or spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the space where the spinal cord resides.

This treatment is often offered when other, less invasive treatments do not work. Less invasive treatments can include using pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Although it's difficult to predict who will benefit from steroid injections in the spine, they can be quite helpful.

As with any treatment, spinal injections of steroids do come with some risks. These include:
  • Discomfort or numbness during the injection
  • Headache or nausea
  • Infection
  • Bleeding along the path of the needle
  • Nerve damage
Doctors who perform these injections usually use an x-ray (such as fluoroscopy) to confirm the proper location of the needle before the injection. And keeping the injection site free of bacteria is routine to help avoid infections. Fortunately, serious complications or side effects, such as infection or nerve damage, are quite rare.

Spinal steroid injections may be a good option for you. But it depends on the severity of your symptoms, your concerns about the risks of the injections, and the availability of other treatment options.
Harvard Medical School Arthritis: Keeping your joints healthy

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Harvard Medical School Arthritis: Keeping your joints healthy

If you have arthritis, you can take steps to protect your joints, reduce discomfort, and improve mobility all of which are detailed in this report. Because describing your symptoms is so important...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.